The Right and Only King (3)
Pray Psalm 40.1-3.
I waited patiently for the LORD;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the LORD.
Sing Psalm 40.1-3.
(Dix: For the Beauty of the Earth)
I waited patiently for God; He inclined and heard my cry,
lifted me up above the sod, set me on a Rock on high!
New songs in my mouth He gave; may He through me many save.
Read Acts 12.1-11; meditate on verses. 10, 11.
1. What happened to Peter?
2. What did he do then?
Peter was bemused. He thought this might be a vision (been there, done that, Acts 10). But he did what he was told. He and the angel walked right past the first and second guards (“Evenin’, gents!”). Next, they arrived at the door of the prison and voilà, it swung open, seemingly by its own power (but not). Now, out in the street, the angel’s work was done, and he stepped back through the veil into the eternal realm.
Peter reflected on the strangeness and wonder of all this, and he drew the right conclusion: “Now I know for certain…” (v. 11).
This is really important. The “Now I know for certain…” came after the obedience, not before it. What about us: We don’t usually operate this way. We want to be sure that, if we share the Gospel with someone, nothing awkward or troubling will happen. But God doesn’t promise us that. He simply says, “make disciples” and “be My witnesses.” Have we got the cart before the horse?
We won’t see the fruit of obedience until we obey. We’ll “get it” about the Spirit’s power to make us witnesses for Christ – strange and unlikely as that may seem – when we have actually drawn on that power by obeying our mandate, taking the next steps to reach out to the lost, and opening our mouths with the Good News of Christ and His Kingdom.
Understanding leads to obedience. Obedience generates faith and understanding. Faith does not grow by knowing the outcomes of our next steps, but only by understanding and obeying the next steps. And we learn our next steps from the Lord, in His Word and prayer.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“The ‘Now I know for certain…’ came after the obedience, not before it.”
This is the way God likes to do things. Absolute and pure faith in Him pleases Him. And He likes to give His people lots of opportunities to prove our faith in Him.
We’ve just read about Peter and his faith. I wonder if he was thinking about Moses, and his faith?
When God appeared to Moses in the bush that looked as if it was burning, but wasn’t (Ex.3.3, 4), He told him to go to Egypt and free His oppressed and sorrowful people. God had heard their cry and He was sending Moses to help them.
First of all, Moses was in Midian at the time. And on this occasion, he was on Mt. Horeb tending to a flock of animals. Egypt happened to be around 240 miles away. Planes, trains, and automobiles were not an option.
So Moses questioned God’s plan and asked, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Ex. 3.11) God’s answer was this: “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain” (Ex. 3.12).
So Moses traveled all the way to Egypt, tangled with Pharaoh about freeing God’s people, dealt with all the logistical issues of traveling with approximately a million men, women, and children, and eventually arrived back at this starting point on Mt. Horeb; and only then would he know for certain that God had sent him.
Again, Moses’ certainty came after the obedience. Obedience generated by faith. Without this trusting, obedient faith “it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 11.6).
With faith, like Moses’ and Peter’s, we also can please God. And do what He has called us to do.
“…the just shall live by his faith” (Hab. 2.4; Rom. 1.17).
“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5.7).
“For by grace you have been saved through faith…” (Eph. 2.8).
“Faith does not grow by knowing the outcomes of our next steps, but only by understanding and obeying the next steps.”
1. What is faith? How does faith work to draw us more deeply into the knowledge of God and His will?
2. How does the concept of “next steps” demonstrate faith?
3. Why are reading the Scriptures and prayer so important to faith and obedience?
If we believe that God is good and wise, we can trust that what He allowed to happen was part of His wise plan for the good of all of His people. When we place our complete trust in the goodness of God, we can find true peace. God is in control despite any appearance to the contrary. Earl Radmacher (1931-2014), NKJV Study Bible Note on Acts 12.11
Pray Psalm 40.11-17.
Call on the Lord for mercy and grace to help and sustain you through all the activities of your day. Commit to magnifying His Name in all you do.
Sing Psalm 40.11-17.
(Dix: For the Beauty of the Earth)
Keep Your mercy not from me; let Your love and truth prevail.
Evil and iniquity make my trembling heart to fail.
Lord, be pleased to rescue me! Let my shelter with You be.
Bring to shame my ev’ry foe, all who would my life destroy;
bring them down to scorn and woe who at my hurt sing for joy.
Let them come to grief and shame who heap scorn upon my name.
Let them shout for joy and sing who in saving grace delight!
Let them praise to Jesus bring, though affliction be their plight.
Christ, our help, our Savior He! Of us ever mindful be!
T. M. and Susie Moore
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.